I have to thank Julie Powell. It kills me to do this because I find her rather offensive, both as a writer and as a human being. If her goal was to make herself completely despicable and raise her husband (ex-husband?) to sainthood in this reader’s eyes, she succeeded. However, I have to thank her for re-introducing me to Julia Child.
I first read Powell’s book, Julie and Julia, around the time the movie with Meryl Streep, the always amazing Stanley Tucci, and Amy Adams came out. I thought the book would be like the movie: half Julie’s adventures cooking Julia’s recipes in Brooklyn and half Julia’s adventures cooking in France. Boy, was I wrong. But I quickly discovered that the Julia part of the movie was based on Julia’s My Life in France, a memoir of her and Paul’s life together, written with her nephew Alex Prud’homme. From the mistake of reading Powell’s book came the delight of reading about Julia and her life in her own words.
It was revelatory. Julia wrote with such feeling, such personality, such love, and such passion. I heard her voice as I learned about the highs and the lows of her life in Europe and later back in the United States. I was charmed by Paul and simply in love with Julia. It was her telling me these stories, teaching me these recipes, and telling me that it’s ok to mess up, whether in cooking or life. We’ll just piece it back together like a broken quiche. Your guests won’t know the difference. For the little girl who had only seen glimpses of the large woman with the musical voice cooking on tv, it was a wonderful way to be officially introduced.
This isn’t a review of her memoir, or Powell’s for that matter. It’s just a small way to say happy birthday to a lovely lady who taught us all to live life to the fullest. And to thank her for teaching me that when I overcook the chicken in the slow cooker on Monday, I can always fix it and turn it into pulled chicken sandwiches and chicken and mushroom quesadillas later in the week. My guests won’t know the difference.